Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hayashi's Auto Repair Bill Passes with Insurance Money

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi likes to say she would never support the auto repair insurance bill sitting on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk if it hurt consumers, yet $8,000 in campaign donations from insurance companies also won't hurt her expanding war chest and ambitions.

The bill, which consumer advocates say will help insurance companies to "steer" customers to auto repair shops of their choice, failed by two votes in the state Senate Aug. 24 before gaining reconsideration and passage last week. The governor has not made a comment on the bill as of yet.

Anti-steering advocates such as Rep. Jackie Speier, who authored the 2003 bill that limited the insurance industry practice of advocating a certain garage to customers, voiced disapproval with Hayashi's bill along with vigorous opposition from consumer advocacy groups.

Critics say insurance companies will often push customers towards garages of their own choosing and, in some cases, provides cheaper and shoddy workmanship, including generic replacement parts that can void warranties. Advocates also says these types of arrangements with insurance companies give auto shops incentive to cut corners to stay on the companies lucrative list.

AB 1200 was written by a consortium of insurance and sponsored by Hayashi in late February. In the next few months as the bill traveled through the state assembly and senate, Hayashi received $8,000 in campaign donations from various insurance interests led by the Personal Insurance Federation of California (PFIC) with $2,600 in May and June. The PIFC was created by Farmers and State Farm Insurance in 1989 and also represents Progressive, Liberty Mutual and Allstate Insurance. Here's a rundown of her campaign donations from insurance companies:

PFIC $650 May 13, 2009
PFIC $1,950 June 17, 2009
Assoc. of California Insurance Co. PAC $1,000 May 22, 2009
Allstate Insurance PAC $1,000 May 18, 2009
Liberty Mutual PAC $1,000 June 5, 2009
Farmers Group $2,400 June 17, 2009
Source: Secy. of State Debra Bowen
Hayashi, in fact, received over $222,000 during the first half of the year fueling speculation she is fortifying herself for a race against Sen. Ellen Corbett next year. Corbett received just over $81,000 this year and both legislators are nearly equal in cash at this point. Hayashi's camp has been noticeably mum on the subject, but a spat between the assemblywoman and senator two months ago turned the heads of many and increased speculation of a contentious Democratic primary.

Hayashi's haul for the year should increase later this month when she hosts a $2,500 a person retreat at the Sonoma Inn and Spa. One local politico took exception not with the hefty price tag, but that in a languishing local economy, Hayashi took her fundraiser weekend out of the county.
The Citizen File on Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, AB 1200
>>>Hayashi's allows Insurance Companies to Crash the Party, Aug. 3, 2009
>>>Respectfully, this Bill is Bad; Don't Hurt Me, Aug. 24, 2009

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Say it ain't so Mary. If our rates go up they'll start calling her High Insurance Hayashi. Hopefully it'll mean more competition at the body shops. I always figured you had to give the body shops a little slack because they were small businesses where their employees were breathing auto paint fumes all day so our "rides" were looking good.

It is a very nice and good post. Keep up the good work.

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